Health and Wellness

Deepak Chopra: These 3 simple exercises will change the way you see the world

Deepak Chopra: Why we have anxiety—and what to do about it
Deepak Chopra: Why we have anxiety—and what to do about it

Research has shown again and again that there are numerous benefits to meditative journaling: it can improve your mental health by helping you manage depression and anxiety, be more aware and present, recognize triggers and allow space for positive self-talk and encouragement. 

But getting started can be challenging because it requires a lot of patience and commitment. If you stick to it, however, you may open your eyes one morning, look around, and know with certainty that you have fully awakened to the world around you.

If you're serious about incorporating meditative journaling into your daily routine, the three exercises below will help get your creative juices flowing.  It's important to focus on doing just one exercise per day. Each one starts with an insight, followed by a brief explanation.

After you've read both at least once (although I recommend several times throughout the day as well, so you can fully embrace its meaning) and completed the "action step," write about the experience in your journal.

Think about things like how you felt before the exercise and what changes you noticed after. Did you have an "aha!" moment? Do you feel calmer, more focused, more present, more awakened?

Exercise #1: Get in touch with the basics

Insight: The everyday experience of reality starts with perceptions: sounds, colors, shapes, textures, tastes and smells.

What it means: Waking up is supposed to be effortless. But it's important to know where to start, and there is no better place to begin than where you are right this moment. In fact, we will wind up in trouble if we pretend that there is any other starting point. You are experiencing your life as it is: a flow of experiences that begin with the five senses.

For today: Sit for a moment and simply embrace the light, warmth and smells wafting your way. Relax into the experience. Just observe. The more you're able to relax, the more effortless waking up will be. In a relaxed state, your mental activity calms down, and observing your direct experience will happen naturally.

Now, write about your experience.

Exercise #2: Get in touch with your sense of reality

Insight: The range of human perception is a narrow bandwidth of raw sensations.

What it means: The five senses are our window into reality, but the opening is just a slit. The phrase "seeing is believing" usually only applies to a small fraction of raw data bombarding the eye every second. The same is true for the other four senses — smell, hearing, taste and touch: they conspire to deliver a narrow bandwidth of reality. Waking up to the world around us helps expand that bandwidth and increases our perception of reality.

For today: Get in touch with how narrow your sense of reality actually is. Cup your hands over your ears and noticed how muffled the world is. Then, put on your sunglasses and notice how dim the world becomes. Turn off the lights and cautiously, with small steps, try to navigate a room in your house that you're very familiar with. When you take your hands away from your ears, remove your sunglasses and turn the lights back on, you'll notice that your sense of awareness has expanded.

Now, write about your experience.

Exercise #3: Listen to the birds singing

Axiom: All biological organisms have their own unique bandwidth of sensory experience.

Explanation: Your experiences defines who you are, and since you are tuned in to only one bandwidth of reality — call it the "You Channel" — your identity is also narrow. Other living things are tuned in to different bandwidths, giving them an existence we can barely imagine. But humans can change the channel at will. Reality is only as narrow as our awareness. When we wake up, we are turned in to the entire bandwidth — and our reality is unlimited.

For today: Take a moment to listen to the birds singing outside your window. Each bird is telling its own story. Birdsong communicates information from parents to chick, announces the limits of territory, attracts a mate, signals danger and identifies which species the bird belongs to. Notice that you do not understand a single thing on the Bird Channel.

If it is winter or if you hear no birds, consider a dog sniffing the air. A dog's nose can tell it who has walked by, what was on that person's shoes or when a particular incident occurred. Notice that your nose gathers none of the information that comes across the Dog Channel.

Now, write about your experience.

Deepak Chopra, M.D. is the co-author of "Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential," founder of The Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global, and co-founder of Jiyo.

*This is an adapted excerpt from "Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential," by Deepak Chopra, M.D., published by Harmony Books.

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